On my drive back from the Cape today I was shuffling around podcasts trying to find a new one. I wound up listening to a couple on sex and relationships. Mainly, sexual issues and complications which can occur in long term relationships and the various ways couples try to deal with them. I know, I am not remotely near any kind of relationship myself but I still find the topic interesting since I am still part of the single dating pool. It helps me to know what the grass looks like on the other side….to know it’s often AstroTurf I wouldn’t actually want in my yard anyway.

Topics I heard about today were around how more people are experimenting with various forms of open relationships. This is a topic I have a lot of thoughts on because I run across it more and more on dating websites, especially in the last year or so. I have also been to Amsterdam and think prostitution should be legal everywhere, a thing he can do on his lunch break and return home at the end of the day without incident. Let it just be a normal, healthy, regulated part of life.

I have been single for awhile and being the object of a married man’s desire is not new to me. But I am used to it being his secret and something I tend to stay away from. I feel that if he is in a relationship which has unsatisfying parts, he should be seeking therapy with his partner or leaving her instead of looking for someone to cheat with. The choice between honesty and deceit feels very black and white to me.

It’s not that I have never been involved with a married man. It’s not my choice or wish but it has happened. Only once did I know about it ahead of time. That was a complicated time in my life when I was making very selfish decisions because of immense pain I was in due to other things happening in my life. I had never done the “wrong” thing and life wasn’t turning out well for me. I was horrified that it happened but I also didn’t stop it because I was tired of always doing the right thing and still having a painful life. As much as I did care about him, I was equally resentful of the fact he got to have 2 people in his life so that all his needs were satisfied while being spread out. I thought it was disgusting what he was doing to his wife and horribly selfish for him not to leave her if this was the behavior he was pursuing. It was less about me wanting him to leave her for me, it was just that I thought he should leave her regardless because it wasn’t fair for her hopes and dreams to be tied to a man who didn’t respect them. He said he loved me but how could he love me and be so disrespectful to a woman in general? The wife had a right to be living a much more satisfactory life if given the facts. Instead, he got to satisfy his life at her expense. I still think that’s disgusting. No matter how many times throughout the years he has wanted to meet back up, I just can’t get past that level of masculine greed on any level. That is certainly not a man I want to end up with. It is a level of misogyny and I just can’t get with it.

Dating websites used to be loaded with married men who didn’t disclose their marriages. They’d just try to get dates and hookups. It would only be after the fact I would discover a wife or girlfriend. Now, I see lots more profiles of men admitting they are married, but unhappy. They are openly asking you to sleep with them and letting you know they are married with no intention of leaving that relationship. I find that just as selfish. Why on earth would I agree to going on a date with an unavailable man? Does he actually believe sex with him is so good, so sustainable that any single woman would accept the offer while knowing she gets nothing else out of it? Yes, men do believe that about themselves. And, yes, some women are good with only that depending upon what dating phase she may be in. Sometimes we are just looking for casual fun and sometimes we are looking for a relationship. It can change on and off. I have waited between the 2 many times.

Add to the “married but looking” are now the non-monogamous and polyamory profiles. He wants to hook up with you and a bunch of other people while being in a relationship with the main girl and she knows about it and is ok with it. This is where the podcast topic started filling in today. Many marriages may be working in 9 out of 10 categories with category 10 being an unfulfilling sex life. The reasons are vast. Different levels of desire, outmatched frequencies, having kids, specific fantasies the other party isn’t into, the ebb and flow of long term relationships, the “high” of falling in love evolves and changes the dynamic of sex. A lot of relationships end becAuse of it. Some relationships continue and learn to live without it. Others cheat. Some now turn to open relationships. It’s becoming more acceptable.

One can argue that monogamy isn’t natural. It probably isn’t when you look at animal nature. It was not an institution born of undying, desperate love. It was born of financial need and power over women. Centuries of practice have gaslit all of us into believing it’s about love and finding our person. That if we are single, we are broken, undesirable. There is no person for us heathens.

Having never been married myself, I can tell you I have met “my person” in more than one individual. Whether it be romantic with past exes or platonic with friends. I promise you, we all have more than one person for us. I have one ex I need to always be a friend in my life. It is non-negotiable with any new man I date. Mark isn’t going anywhere. He is my friend and part of my “quilt” of persons. In fact, it would actually be nice if someday, we could meet up for dinner once a year with our spouses. I just need to get one first.

Hitching ourselves to only one person can be very limiting depending on how you look at it. It can also be very freeing to know you have married “the one” and you don’t have to be “out there” anymore. You can kind of give up on the search and settle into what you have chosen, making compromises along the way to ensure both of you are getting something beneficial. But it’s never perfect. You do sometimes look at your uncoupled friends and wish you could have some of our freedom. I joke with my married friends about which country will I choose to visit next year while they are Great Wolf Lodge with the kids again…they understand my humor. They can just as easily shoot back how nice it is to have 2 incomes to merge for that one vacation while I wonder if I am going to end up in a dangerous part of a city because it’s all I can afford.

If I were married, I would like to think I would be open to doing whatever it took to have a 10 for 10 life. If everything else were great except my sex life, I would like to think I have choices outside my marriage. That’s not ideal. My personality is more likely to put greater weight on the sex part and learn to live with the other 9 things being ho-hum. I can always hire an accountant, housekeeper and food delivery service, right? That’s just me and how my love language works. But I get it. I don’t totally want to begrudge these couples their choices. That said, the judgy part of me always judges them for “settling” in the first place. I mean, in most cases, they had to know the sex was off and got hitched anyway. I kind of do think you have to get stuck with your choices when there are very strong women out here like me who never settled at all. If I ever get married, you will know for sure I have heavily considered my 10 for 10 and which one I prioritized. Also, studies show that couples with amazing sex lives and everything else wrong can outlast the 9 for 10 relationships. Interesting fact I learned today which leaves me optimistic.

Anyhow, here’s the rub (no pun intended.) What’s in it for me? Why should I get involved with a married man or open relationship man from the start? There is no relationship to hope for when that is ultimately what I want. It’s long term or single for me, nothing in between is worth it. That means I am just the “3rd wheel” to your fractured relationship. Pulling me into your life helps you and your wife, perhaps, but what does it do for me? Yes, I enjoy sex. But I also want someone to go to funerals with when I need support. Someone who can run home and take my dog out occasionally when I am stuck at work. Someone who can travel with me. Someone who can have dinner with my family. Not all the time, but sometimes. Being a 3rd wheel girlfriend only yields me an occasional dinner followed by servicing your needs with only a remote chance of having 1 of my needs met.

I think “opens” need to stick with other “opens.” Meaning, if you are doing non-monogamy, your extras should be in the same type of relationships themselves. If you are open, your 3rd should also be a married open person. This way, need equals need on both sides. Otherwise, it’s the most quintessential kind of selfishness that can exist. You get to share a home, finances, cars, vacations, responsibilities with her while having sex with me. I still have a single income, a crappy house I can never upgrade and a dented Toyota Corolla. How do you improve any quality aspect of my life? And if you have an answer to that, you are a conceited asshat. No wonder your wife can’t stand your touch. So I just don’t get it.

Being single nowadays no longer means being optimistic I could find a person who works for me where we can happily merge. I have to consider being nothing more than a concubine or human marital aid to help you through an ill made or hasty decision you once made for fear of loneliness. If you are in my age group and looking for me to be part of your sex therapy, you are asking a whole hell of a lot from a woman who has a fulfilling life without ever compromising anything out of fear. If I want a casual hookup, I can still find an uncomplicated, single guy for that. They tend to suck but at least we are in equal footing with what we can bring or take away from the arrangement. If I’m only doing the hookup thing, I suck just as much as he does.

It will be interesting to see how relationships continue to evolve. Most of my friends are married and don’t think about this topic at all. I am forced to think about it as I continue dating because my prospects come to me with all different circumstances. I don’t wish divorce on any of my coupled friends. Being single is WAY different than it was when you found him or her. You met at school, at work, through friends or even a dating website early on when people were more serious about finding you and following up after a great first date.

At least once a month, I have to consider going out with someone in one of the relationship scenarios I have discussed here. Hence, I don’t think I have actually gone on one date this year. It just wasn’t a priority to begin with. The Trump era has also made my skin crawl at men so much that I have a very hard time talking to one let alone developing an attraction. This political landscape has been an epic disappointment for me – a vaginal Sahara of epic proportions. Not just because of Republican voting men but also the Democrats who claim to be open minded but sit idly by without doing or saying anything in the defense of women and other subjugated parties. Plus, the liberal ones are the more likely to ask for “open” relationships. The conservative ones just cheat and lead fake lives. Neither is appealing to me. This 3rd wheel is perfectly happy reinventing herself into a unicycle, thank you.